While no-one would call this a great match-up for Monday Night Football, nonetheless it’s another great opportunity for football and online sports betting fans to get involved in the action, as the Seattle Seahawks (5-7) get ready to host the St. Louis Rams (2-10) for what should be an exciting game within the deafening confines of CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
Though Seattle had suffered through a very disappointing first half of the season that saw them win just 2 games in 8 played, the Seahawks form of late has been greatly improved, which is impressive considering that the injuries keep on piling up. Taking a number of hits on the offensive line this year with season-ending injuries to right tackles John Moffitt and James Carpenter, as well as losing star left tackle Russell Okung for the season, the Seahawks running game led by Marshawn Lynch (202 carries, 854 yards, 8 TDs) has been all the more impressive considering they’ve had to shuffle their O-line around and once again haven’t had a consistent front for Lynch to run behind. Though injuries have been a setback, Seattle will seek out its 6th straight game with over 100 yards rushing, something they haven’t done in 15 years, getting to sled against the worst rush defense in the league. With St. Louis giving up over 150 yards rushing per game this season, and specifically struggling in this match-up giving up 164.5 yards/game during a 6-game slide in games played at Seattle, we could actually witness an opportunity for Marshawn Lynch to have a statement game on national television once again, as he did on home turf in last season’s upset win over New Orleans on Wild Card Weekend.
For the St. Louis Rams, getting their star running back going early and often appears to be one of the few chances they’ll get to keep pace with the Seahawks at home, but that could be a very big challenge considering how well Seattle’s defense has been against the run lately, especially when boosted by their raucous home fans. Steven Jackson (182 carries, 832 yards, 4 TDs) has pretty much been the only bright spot for the Rams this season (as has been the case in quite a few seasons in recent memory), but he’s struggled mightily in games against Seattle, averaging just 3.5 yards/carry in the last seven games versus the Seahawks, including getting stuffed for just 42 yards on 15 carries in the 24-7 loss to Seattle back on November, 20th. What’s even worse, with a quarterback situation going from bad to worst-case scenario as starter Sam Bradford remains sidelined and back-up A.J. Feeley doesn’t look likely to play due to a fractured thumb, the presence of practice team QB Tom Brandstater in the starting line-up means that even further pressure will be put on Jackson to perform, even though he’s only mustered a measly 41.6 yards rushing during the Rams most recent 3-game losing streak. Averaging just 11.7 points per contest behind a 27th ranked rush and 28th ranked passing game, finding a way to get room to run against the 11th ranked rush defense (which is steadily improving as well), could end up being simply too much to ask for, especially considering St. Louis has generated just 11 (yes only 11) touchdowns on offense over the entire season (for you stats folks, that’s .91 TDs per game, yuck).
With little in the way of opportunity in the running game likely for St. Louis, it’ll be interesting to see how Rams’ head coach Steve Spagnuolo tries to work in the passing game, which if used at all will likely include a ton of dink-and-dunk passes characteristic with an unproven QB under center. With the Rams falling behind and playing catch-up in so many games this year, it’s not surprising to see that they’ve attempted 133 more passes than running plays, relying on Brandon Lloyd (32 catches, 430 yards, 4 TDs) and Brandon Gibson (34 catches, 404 yards, 1 TD) as the go-to receivers, but how that balance breaks down with a new, untested quarterback remains to be seen. Against an improving Seattle pass rush that won’t leave much room in the running game tonight for the Rams to fall back on, we almost feel slightly bad for Tom Brandstater, who undoubtedly will take too long in the pocket on a number of occasions, and likely issue some key turnovers that directly lead to Seahawks points. You really can’t fault a quarterback in a situation like this for a team as bad as the Rams are this year, so with little expectations ahead of him it will be interesting to see if the young QB can step up and at least show a few signs of success that might lead to him getting more snaps and more experience in the games to close out the season. But, with no receivers on the team averaging more than 3 catches per contest, there isn’t much in the way of expectations for the St. Louis Rams to have anyone standout in the wide-out category for tonight’s stats lines.
Though Seattle’s offense overall wouldn’t impress many folks with a 24th ranking in the pass and 23rd in the rush, their ability to perform well at home continues to be the best reason to confidently get behind the Seahawks especially in home match-ups. Starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson certainly hasn’t been great, hampered by a lingering pectoral muscle injury, but has shown he’s a gamer as Seattle has won 3 of 4 games (and should have won 4 straight barring a defensive failure against the Redskins on 11/27), despite not being anywhere near an elite talent level. Jackson won’t be in any fantasy football rosters even for a QB match-up as good as this, but we can expect him to be a good leader once again at home, just as he was in a solid 31-14 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, in which he threw for 191 yards on 13-16 passing, with 1 TD, and a solid 137 passer rating on December 1st. Jackson does have good receivers around him with Doug Baldwin (38 catches, 625 yards, 2 TDs), Sidney Rice (32 catches, 484 yards, 2 TDs, and Ben Obamanu (30 catches, 323 yards, 2 TDs) working in tandem, so while we don’t expect Seattle to pass the ball more than run with it, we do expect to see the Hawks use the Rams’ focus against the run in their favor, as the St. Louis will likely be forced into man-to-man coverage against bigger, stronger receivers. Though Marshawn Lynch doesn’t show any signs of needing a break from his straight forward, hard-hitting running style, the ‘Hawks would to well to balance out their offense and give him a bit of a break, especially considering they’re not mathematically out of the playoffs with three weeks of games remaining after tonight’s contest.
Betting Lines for Seattle Seahawks vs. St. Louis Rams
If you would guess that the Seattle Seahawks enter this home match-up as a favorite against the NFL’s lowest scoring team, well then, you’d be right. At the top online sportsbook at TopBet.com, one of our newest additions to the small crop of the best sportsbooks reviewed here on our site, Seattle comes into tonight’s contest as a -420 favorite, undoubtedly their biggest margin of the season. St. Louis is at +330 odds to win on the money line, however we think that is likely a conservative figure considering there’s a practice squad QB helming the lowest scoring offense in the country, in a match-up they’ve lost 12 of the last 13 times. For a more probable wager with better odds to chase after today though, turn to the points spread, which features the Seahawks getting +9.5 points at -110 odds, in what appears a manageable goal considering Seattle’s strong play at home, and their 17 point win over a much better (albeit highly disappointing) Eagles team just last week. With St. Louis unable to generate more than 12 points of offense in games, we just don’t see how they can keep up to cover the 9.5 points today, considering their leading running back has struggled in this match-up and over the past 3 weeks, and their passing game figures to be almost non-existent in a hostile environment with ‘Hawks flying around everywhere. Lastly though, and worth a good look is the over/under, which is at a very low 38 points and for good reason. While we think Seattle shouldn’t have a problem reaching paydirt 3-4 times in this contest, we also think St. Louis has troubles reaching that goal line more than once, as they will struggle in the red zone (if they even get there tonight) behind an unproven QB like Brandstater.
Our Pick to Win:
Though by nature I have to disclose that the Seattle Seahawks are my team (which can be a painful disclosure considering another overall lackluster year thus far), an unbiased look at this match-up with the St. Louis Rams would likely yield the same conclusion as I would have. The Seahawks are going to parlay their confidence and strong recent form into a mashing of the Rams at home tonight, and the game isn’t going to be pretty. Perhaps the lone bright spot to watch for tonight is Marshawn Lynch, who is one of the more exciting backs in the league despite playing on a small market team, as he obviously loves to shine in games on national television. Look for him to go north of 100 yards, potentially clipping 1,000 for the season if he can string together 146 on the ground tonight (of note, he went for 148 against the Eagles last week…) and for Seattle to shut down the Rams for 3 quarters of the game, if not the whole thing. I won’t be surprised to see the Hawks let up near the end of the game (something they have a knack for doing, which is beyond frustrating as a fan), which could put the over/under at risk of busting through, but I’m hoping the ‘Hawks learned their lesson in the Week 12 loss to Washington, and will play through 60 minutes of action tonight at home. Nonetheless, I expect the Seahawks will prevail at home for Monday Night Football in front of their rockin’ fans, putting up enough points to nearly beat the spread by themselves, in a 35-10 rout of the St. Louis Rams.